Can a family go Vegan? How do you pull it off?

I have a friend whose husband wants the family to start eating vegan. My friend isn’t quite sure how to pull it off.

Vegan is different than vegetarian. Some might say it is an extension.

From Vegan.org:

“why VEGAN? Veganism, the natural extension of vegetarianism, is an integral component of a cruelty-free lifestyle. Living vegan provides numerous benefits to animals’ lives, to the environment, and to our own health–through a healthy diet and lifestyle.”

“what is a VEGAN? A vegan (pronounced VEE-gun) is someone who, for various reasons, chooses to avoid using or consuming animal products. While vegetarians choose not to use flesh foods, vegans also avoid dairy and eggs, as well as fur, leather, wool, down, and cosmetics or chemical products tested on animals.”


On making the transition to Vegan:

“EATING VEGAN In starting the transition to a vegan diet, there are a few different strategies. Some people shift into a vegan diet slowly, starting with vegan ‘analogues’— plant-based foods whose taste resembles animal products. Others simply take out the animal products from their diet and replace them with plant foods with which they’re already familiar. Still others concentrate on experimenting with entirely new vegan foods, often from international cuisines. Thankfully, there is no shortage of vegan foods to help make the transition. In fact, most of the food we eat is vegan, without us knowing it!”

These are my mom friend’s concerns:

  1. She has three young children and she wants them to eat their meals. If she goes too far into left field the kids won’t eat and won’t be getting the nutrition they need.
  2. She is regularly a very health-conscious cook. She is very into natural ingredients with little additives. She is concerned by products that don’t occur in nature.  So the so called “analogues” mentioned above scare her! She doesn’t want to use plant-based foods that resemble animal products.

So she is looking for advice and recipes about how to make this healthy transition for her family without it being too complicated, without it creating holes in her children’s nutrition, and without it being gross – ie products that are fake and man-made as substitutes for animal products.

I think this process is more doable than before thanks to the internet. I think a mother wanting to do this would have to spend a lot of time reading articles, looking at websites and sorting through recipes to find ones that her family would be willing to accept.

I did some more poking around on the Vegan.org site and it has a lot of good information and links out to other sites – such as restaurants that serve vegan.

I found advice for replacing eggs in recipes as well as basic foods a family can start with. Some of the stuff was pretty obvious — a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I think it gets harder when you try real recipes and not just individual foods.I stopped by yesterday and my friend was making a birthday soup for her husband with peas and zucchini. It’s tough to make a creamy soup without any cream! She was also making his birthday cake vegan — again icing is really tough if you’re not using dairy products. She was still working on it when I left. It wasn’t quite right.

Has your family made the transition to vegan? How did you do it? Do the kids mind? Did it hurt their nutrition – ie were they getting enough protein from other sources? How did you measure? What is your advice for families trying veganism out?
Would you consider veganism for your family?

124 comments Add your comment

jarvis

September 15th, 2011
3:44 pm

@JOD, crazy enough…it was…and I’m not kidding.
You’re zoned in today.

JOD

September 15th, 2011
3:54 pm

@jarvis – Too funny. I just got one with the vacuum cleaner yesterday and your post reminded me of it. Spiders go outside here, but those things gross me out…they are wicked fast and creepy to boot.

Two Vegan Boys

September 15th, 2011
4:21 pm

Our family is vegan. We have two young boys who are very healthy, happy, and vegan. It can be done. http://www.twoveganboys.wordpress.com

shaggy

September 15th, 2011
4:42 pm

JOD,

Yes, 10 days in a 38 degree cooler will set you free. Never eat venison fresh cut, unless you are starving, or just have some vegans that you want to pi$$ off and not time to cure your meat.
It takes the gamey taste down several notches, and naturally tenderizes the meat.

AJ

September 15th, 2011
6:35 pm

OK people – I’m the mom wanting to go vegan. First of all while I am not crazy about the way animals are treated especially in this country, that is not my primary reason. Our family was already only eating organic sustainably produced animal products. I already cook nearly everything from scratch – I could count on one hand the number of times I bought bread in the grocery store this year. I just want to feed my family the healthiest diet possible. I am not preaching and really don’t care what you do in your house. I will let my kids eat cake and pizza at parties and when we go out they eat an occasional chicken nugget. I just want to control what goes into their mouths when I am making it and because we don’t eat out often that is probably 95% of what they eat. While we can argue of the environmental and animal cruelty aspects of veganism, I am more concerned with health. I don’t think there are many who could argue that the Western diet high in animal products and processed foods is making people fat and killing people with cancer and heart disease.

AJ

September 15th, 2011
6:54 pm

By the way, I am not ungreatful – thanks to all who gave my ideas and links – I will check them out!!

OTOH

September 16th, 2011
12:44 am

AJ: Sounds to me like you are already doing a great job feeding your family healthy food and a healthy attitude about food and about other people. You are also a good model for the rest of us for which I thank you.

Aaron

September 16th, 2011
6:55 am

The argument for veganism as an environmental choice is an absolute strawman.

Food production connected to a population of 8 billion people will necessarily be a strain on the environment. The effects of mass agriculture and mass animal operations are very similar. This is an over-population problem, not a meat problem.

If all agriculture were to be non-GMO, organic and sustainable tomorrow, the earth would lose half its population within three months. Mass food production is a condition of mass over-population.

Second, raising meat in a sustainable way is no harder on the environment than sustainably raising vegetables.

It takes 1000’s of gallons of water to raise a CAFO cow because of all the CORN that needs to be grown to feed it a grain-based (unnatural) diet. Methane emissions from cows are a direct result of them not eating grass but instead being fed a “franken-diet” for which nature never intended. (Much like humans consuming a ton of soy to make up for missing parts of their diets).

A paleo diet using organic and grassfed products is far better for the environment than a vegan diet using conventional produce. There’s nothing quite as environmentally backward as the uniculture of commerical ag, with acres and acres of land where only a single species is allowed to exist – no bugs, no other kinds of plants, no animals, a ton of toxic chemicals all over the place and the crop in the field being built in a lab.

Bottom line, it is the meat eating of our evolutionary ancestors which allow modern, cultured urbanites to make the scientifically backward decision to go Vegan. If those up the chain had decided similarly, humans wouldn’t be here and what humanoids were on the planet would have tiny brains. These are facts.

Want to eat as healthy as possible? Me, too. That’s why I live primally. I eat diet where the majority of my calories come from fat and protein but eat a ton of vegetables, some fruit, nuts and seeds.

Please don’t feed your kids (especially your male kids) a ton of unhealthy soy under the guise of health. Allow them to eat the diet humans were designed to eat until they’re 18 and then let them do whatever they want. I believe it’s our obligation as parents.

Clearly, no one in the world is arguing that humans were designed to be vegans.

HB

September 16th, 2011
10:43 am

AJ, if your primary concern is health, then personally, I think going vegan is unnecessary. I agree that the typical western meat-heavy diet is unhealthy, and have been either vegetarian or pescetarian for years (both for health and concerns about threatment of animals, sustainability, etc). But I don’t think for health reasons that it has to be an all or nothing choice, and vegan doesn’t always mean healthier. For example, there are studies that indicate too much processed soy can be harmful, so I’ve made a choice to stick with organic skim milk from pasture-fed cows rather than switch to soymilk, and I only eat tofu occasionally. How often does your family currently eat meat? Maybe you should start by cutting back to having meat with only a few meals each week, find good plant-based protein sources for the other meals (quinoa, whole grains, beans, nuts), and don’t sweat it it if there’s a little cheese on something here and there. I disagree with those who say veganism isn’t healthy, but at the same time, I don’t think it’s always healthier than other choices.

Lucy

September 16th, 2011
11:30 am

Interested in veganism or a vegetarian lifestyle? Visit http://www.chooseveg.com for more info!

MrLiberty

September 16th, 2011
4:42 pm

Its amazing to see (and experience first hand) the reactions of people who eat meat when confronted by the mere presence of a vegetarian/vegan. The reactions are almost always the same – justification/denial/rationalization. They almost always take the form of “well I haven’t eaten red meat in x years”, “I only eat chicken”, “I couldn’t survive without meat”, etc. It is humorous to see similar reactions in this blog. Eat the way you want. Just realize that my tax dollars are going to subsidize the meat, dairy, and conventional agriculture industries in this country and massive amounts of animal waste are polluting underground water systems and contaminating vegetable farm land all over this country and the costs and health hazards are being borne by vegetarians who have never sought to take any money from you or tried to restrict your eating habits (yes, plenty of animal rights groups do, but that is not most vegetarians/vegans). So it is your choice, but your choice places a significant burden on the rest of us both in health costs and financially so it is certainly not neutral nor are YOU being asked to pick up those costs through higher prices, etc. (in fact, just the opposite).

Heather

September 16th, 2011
7:51 pm

Going vegan was easy, there are TOO many faux things out there to help with the process & not shock the meat system. However, if you get beyond that *we have* you will want to eat far more less processed stuff, and more on the whole raw vegan stuff–I’m celiac, sensitive to everything unnatural cept like gluten free sushi rice & a few other things here & there.. so I’m mainly raw vegan now, with regular vegan kids. I eat as nature intended as much as possible & cook items for them. It’s not that hard.. really. I’d suggest reading The China Study. Getting a vegan kids book.. the Idiots Guide people put one out. I’d read up on What B12 issues are & aren’t. Most people with B12 issues are meat eaters, or folks with a digestive issue, such as celiacs or chrohns. We only need 3 micrograms of B12 a day, and I get mine from the source: I assume I absorb some via gardening, spirulina & kombucha.

Jessica

September 17th, 2011
9:52 am

I have been reading the comments that people are leaving to be in very poor taste. The original author asked about ways to make the transition to veganism easier for a family. If that isn’t your thing, then fine…she didn’t ask for YOUR opinion on how to best feed your family. Can we stay on topic here? BTW, as a family of celiacs, I find it insulting to hear people talk about the “weird mom bringing her own cake” or the “fake food.” We are a whole foods family and have found wonderful alternatives to gluten. Please be respectful of things that you aren’t familiar with.

My children eat meat twice a week and the rest of the time we eat plant based foods. My kids who are 6, 4, and 1 love beans, lentils, and tofu.

Ed

September 17th, 2011
2:22 pm

I would recommend reading the book, “The Vegetarian Myth” by Lierre Keith, a reformed vegan of 20 years.

For something to live, something else dies. Monocrop agriculture is an environmental disaster. Growing grains for food displaces animals from their habitat and destroys what is living in the field so it does not compete with the crop. Topsoil is depleted and water resources are wasted. If you want to save the environment, eliminate monocrop agriculture and return to the natural rhythm of farming. Meat, dairy, eggs, and fish from animals raised in a humane and natural way takes much less resources than factory farmed meats that utilize grains for food.

Sheldon

September 17th, 2011
5:42 pm

Veganism is not “cruelty free.” It’s a childish, Disney-esque lifestyle that simply makes people FEEL like they’re helping themselves and the environment. The truth is, millions of animals are displaced from farmland every year as we need to grow more and more fruits and vegetables to feed a nation that is already overpopulated. If these people really wanted to contribute to a “cruelty-free” world, they’d STOP HAVING CHILDREN. But I haven’t met a single “vegan” who was willing to go THAT far. If you want more facts about this lunacy, check out Skeptoid.com

godless heathen

September 17th, 2011
6:55 pm

If too many humans go vegan or vegetarian billions will starve to death. The ungulates have evolved to best transform plants to protein. Yes you can survive on plants, but it is very inefficient.

My former Doctor told me not to eat meat or dairy products. I asked, “What about eggs?”
He said, “I said, no dairy.”
I said, “So you missed school the day they took the field trip to the dairy.”

Bad news for all of you vegans. Just by living, you are killing billions of sweet little critters in your gut every second. Do you have no compassion for these guys that die so that you can live?

I prefer to spend my time here enjoying life and good food. Well the charcoal is almost ready for me to throw some meat on the grill.

godless heathen

September 17th, 2011
6:59 pm

And Aaron, if you would check out the world wouldn’t be so overpopulated.

Folks like Aaron seem to believe that the world had just the right number of people the day they were born and everyone that came after that is just screwing it up.

Glenn

September 17th, 2011
7:35 pm

Quote from Mom’s friend – “If she goes too far into LEFT field the kids won’t eat . . . ”

She got the far LEFT part right.

Fred

September 17th, 2011
8:30 pm

If oit’s not to late to comment and answer your question Theresa:

We did a vegetarian diet years ago to lose weight. We were successful. When buying cook books, I bought a vegan one by a woman named Lorna Sass. It has some really awesome recipes that I use to this day, even though we are not vegan. Vegan is a political statement, not a diet. funny how you posted this blog on the same day (I think) that those weirdo vegan parents had their conviction upheld for starving their new born to death. Somehow they thought that soy milk was going to grow their child. Go figure. Like I said, it’s a political statement, not a dirt. But any way, here is a link to Lorna. (You should get one of her books as well. like I said, some very tasty recipies. Her hopping john salad is one of the best I’ve ever eaten or made…….)

http://www.lornasass.com/

Fred

September 17th, 2011
8:32 pm

Bonannie

September 17th, 2011
8:40 pm

I’m as animal loving and green as they come but realistically, as a homosapien it just doesn’t make sense, so….. H___ to the NO!

Sarah Waller

September 17th, 2011
8:46 pm

Um. No. Way too extreme — we are not huge meat eaters around here but. no. We appreciate protein from meat too much.

www.LittleVoyages.com

September 19th, 2011
2:02 pm

For the families should both have the vegetables and meat.That will be more healthy! The best suggestion is that you can bring your babies to Little Voyages to learn Chinese,French and Spanish.You can visit their website:www.LittleVoyage.com,or call (855)-my-voyage, or (855)-698-6924.It is such an amazing palce to learn different languages.

Brooke

September 21st, 2011
1:17 am

I think every vegan transitions a little bit differently. For a family already using natural products and staying away from processed foods I would recommend looking for recipes online. Especially raw food recipes (I know there is a good vegan raw food icing recipe that involves coconut oil) which sounds intimidating but are often much better then processed vegan alternatives when it comes to raw “cheeses” and also really a great source of vitamins and protein. Raw foods are also more fun for kids because they are colorful and sweet. I can’t get my kid to eat fake meat, but she will always drink a bright pink smoothie made with strawberries even if it isn’t that sweet or a entire container of tomatoes in one sitting. As far as nutrition for kids getting healthy fats is really important (another reason why I like raw foods, recipes incorporate lots of avocado and olive oil) as well as B12 which is in multi-vitamins and usually fortified in foods like nut milks.